Week 19, Friday. Evangelizing Thought of the Day (ETD)

DAILY SEQUENTIAL EXCERPTS from The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith – Instrumentum Laboris:

86. Consequently, these texts indicate the geographic area for the new evangelization, though not exclusively, as primarily the Christian West and identify the persons to whom it is directed, namely, the baptized in our communities who are experiencing a new existential and cultural situation, which, in fact, has imperiled their faith and their witness. The new evangelization consists in viewing real-life situations, areas of living and pastoral activity in such a way as to allow these people to leave the “interior desert”, an image used by Pope Benedict XVI to represent the current human condition which is caught in a world that has virtually eliminated from view any question of God. The specific task of the new evangelization is having the courage to raise again the question of God in these places and situations and to restore a high quality and motivation to the faith in many of our Churches of ancient origins.
87. This definition, however, serves as an example and is not intended to be exclusive. In other words, the West is one of many places of the new evangelization and is not the only place for its activity. The definition allows us to understand the extensive work of the new evangelization, which cannot be reduced simply to updating certain pastoral practices, but, instead, demands the development of a very serious, thorough examination and understanding of the root causes of the situation in the Christian West. The urgent nature of the new evangelization, therefore, is not limited to the above situation only. Pope Benedict XVI stated: “In Africa too, situations demanding a new presentation of the Gospel, ‘new in its ardor, methods and expression’, are not rare. [...] The new evangelization is an urgent task for Christians in Africa because they too need to reawaken their enthusiasm for being members of the Church. Guided by the Spirit of the risen Lord, they are called to live the Good News as individuals, in their families and in society, and to proclaim it with fresh zeal to persons near and far, using the new methods that divine Providence has placed at our disposal for its spread.” These same words are to be applied by Christians to particular situations in America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, continents where the Church has long been active in promoting the new evangelization. (Instrumentum Laboris, “Chapter 2: Time for a New Evangelization,” paragraph 86-87)

Indeed, how good is the LORD, eternal his merciful love. He is faithful from age to age. (Psalm 100:5, Liturgy of the Hours: Morning Prayer).

Almighty ever-living God, whom,
taught by the Holy Spirit,
we dare to call our Father,
bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts
the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters,
that we may merit to enter into the inheritance
which you have promised.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

In continuing to explore “A Definition and Its Meaning” of The New Evangelization, the remaining paragraphs of this section are blunt and even then, some would consider “blunt” an understatement. The Instrumentum Laboris is blunt in identifying unique challenges posed by particular geographic regions (notably the West); blunt in identifying a root problem and blunt in what the Church must do. The Instrumentum Laboris certainly is not presenting a band-aid approach to the peril of the “interior desert” as the text clearly articulates that the “task of the new evangelization is having the courage to raise again the question of God in these places and situations and to restore a high quality and motivation to the faith in many of our Churches of ancient origins.” Restoring and motivating the Faith in all places will require the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit to accurately and precisely read the ‘signs of the times’ and respond appropriately from the Tradition’s Sacred Treasure of both the old and the new - both tailored to the needs of leading people into communion with Jesus Christ. Such a work moves a person from the emptiness of the “interior desert.”

(Permit a necessary aside on the point of the “interior desert.” This is a term that Pope Benedict has been using to describe the solipsism, myopic malaise, apathy, narcissism and the intentional, active railing against any dimension of life connected to God. The “interior desert” is not to be confused with the biblical desert experience (e.g. Jesus‘ battle with Satan in the desert or Israel’s journey from slavery to freedom through the desert). The biblical desert and subsequent experience is necessary for maturity on all levels of human existence. The “interior desert” is the antithesis of the biblical desert.)

  • What ideas has the Holy Spirit given you to assist the entire Body of Christ in being restored and motivated to a “high quality” of Faith?

1 comment:

  1. This past Easter, for reasons known only to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I participated not only at the Vigil Mass but 3 other Liturgies on Easter Sunday. The last Mass was filled to the point where the ushers had to do their job!. Help people find seats! I was reminded of the joking that began before Ash Wednesday all the way up to Easter about those you only see at Church for ashes, palms, Easter and Christmas and here I was sitting in the midst of them. People I had never seen before in Church with many dressed in their Sunday finest. As I looked around I began to realize that they were like a migrating school of fish. While they were only here for one Sunday and would disappear again, they would be back again at Christmas. When Christmas came, they would come and then they would disappear again. If nothing else, their movement was predictable. The thought came that we should not let their next appearance at Christmas remain just a joke but that we should be ready to meet them when they came and send them back out out with more than they came with. For the Year of Faith, our Holy Father had made the suggestion that the Catechism and New Testament be disseminated. Why not make this an opportunity to reconnect them with the Faith they were not taking too seriously. In talking with others, the suggestion was made to give out not the Catechism of the Catholic Church but Youcat which would be at the level where most of them were. Sure, if we could get enough Youcats, we could wrap them up and hand them out as a real Christmas gift and not only to the passing school of fish but even to the regulars. But then what? Be ready for them when they come passing through again at Easter. But how? We just finished the Catholicism videos. Maybe Word on Fire or some other organization would have something that would work well with the Youcat and we could offer it for a Lenten series. We could call it Youcat U.

    So we started talking it up and everyone who listened thought it a great idea for their parish. Great idea, except for the price of the Youcat even in bulk for cash strapped parishes. Someone suggested maybe the Knights would help. How do we connect with them? See that man coming down the aisle, stop him, introduce yourself and tell him everything. Turns out he was from a neighboring parish, was involved in his parish teen ministry, a Knight and a businessman who dedicated his business to God when he started it. He agreed it was a great idea, so great he also agreed to take it to the Knights as a project for the Knights for the New Evangelization in every parish. Then no word for a month but finally a response - can't get the Youcat at a price that would make it feasible. Now what? We wait on the Lord.